NewswireToday - /newswire/ -
Torrance, CA, United States, 2010/04/29 - A veteran of the Vietnam War, now living in Torrance, California had unique souvenirs--5,000 Safe Conduct Passes--that he sent home and then forgot about them--until this year.
Each new 2010 “Safe Conduct Pass” coin struck by the New Zealand Mint for Niue (a country “self-governing in free association with New Zealand”), comes with an original Giay Thong-Hanh (Safe Conduct Pass). The mintage is strictly limited to just 5,000 coins, since only 5,000 original Safe Conduct Passes were available.
These crisp uncirculated Safe Conduct Passes were discovered by a 24-year old Specialist 4th Class (equivalent to a Corporal) serving in the 23rd Infantry “Americal” Division. He was walking by a hooch (shack) housing a Psyops (Psychological Warfare Office) in November or December of 1968 when he saw that Passes were being thrown away. Taking advantage of his free mailing privileges, the Specialist sent one box home. They were stored in his garage—and forgotten—until being rediscovered recently when he was cleaning his garage. He showed a sample to the representatives of the New Zealand Mint attending the Los Angeles Convention of the American Numismatic Association—and the rest is history! There were about 5,000 Safe Conduct Passes—hence the limit on the number of coins made.
Each Two Dollar coin is struck in Proof quality from 1 troy oz. of .999 fine silver. The design features a selectively gold plated and colored flag of the Republic of (South) Vietnam, which was also the central design of the Safe Conduct Pass. Beneath the flag, an Army of the Republic of Vietnam soldier stands next to a Viet Cong defector—taken from the photo that appeared on the back of the Safe Conduct Pass. Each coin comes in a presentation box that includes an original Giay Thong-Hanh in a protective clear holder and a certificate of authenticity. This historic set is offered by distributor Panda America (pandaamerica.com) at the official issue price of $99 plus $5 for shipping and insurance; orders can be placed by phone.
The United States and its allies dropped over 50 billion leaflets on Vietnam, many of them safe conduct passes. These allowed the enemy to defect with the absolute knowledge that he will be treated fairly and his life and safety guaranteed.
The main Allied operation using such psychological warfare in Vietnam was the Chieu Hoi ("Open arms") program, that was started by President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. He encouraged the Allies to drop billions of leaflets offering amnesty to those who might rally to the government. In 1969, over 47,000 Viet Cong deserted. During the length of the war, about 160,000 enemy soldiers voluntarily came over to the Government of (South) Vietnam. In War of Ideas: The U.S. Propaganda Campaign in Vietnam, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1981, author Robert W. Chander says: “Both Viet Cong and North Vietnamese defectors and prisoners gave Saigon's safe conduct pass high credibility. Many cited it as an influential element in their decision to lay down their arms.”
The flags of the main Allies (United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand are featured on the safe conduct pass surrounding the large flag of the Republic of (South) Vietnam. The flag of South Vietnam was designed by Emperor Thành Thái in 1890. It was the flag of the former State of Vietnam (the French-controlled areas in both Northern and Southern Vietnam) from 1949 to 195, and later of the Republic of (South) Vietnam from 1955 until April 30, 1975. The flag consists of a yellow field and three horizontal red stripes, explained as either symbolizing the unifying blood running through northern, central, and southern Vietnam, or as representing the symbol for "south" (as in, south from China).
The English, Korean, and Thai text beneath the flags on the Safe Conduct Passes reads "Safe-conduct pass to be honored by all Vietnamese government agencies and allied forces." The Vietnamese text on the back is "Carry this safe conduct pass to collaborate with the National government and you will be: Kindly welcomed / Assured of your security / Well treated.").
The Pass bears the signature and photograph of Nguyen Van Thieu. As a young man, he briefly helped the Viet Minh fight the French colonial powers in his native province, but he later joined the French-backed Vietnamese army fighting the Viet Minh. By 1963 he was chief of staff of the Armed Forces of South Vietnam, and was elected President in 1967. Thieu presided over the country for eight years of the war.